A very important part of your pet's visit is a thorough physical examination. Whether your pet is a new puppy or kitten or a geriatric pet, a physical examination can detect many potential problems. During any examination our goal is to look the pet over from nose to tail. We use a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs. We check their teeth, eyes and ears. We use our hands to feel for abnormalities and lumps or bumps. We look for external parasites such as fleas and ticks. We look at the skin and coat for signs of allergies or infections. We watch them move around the room and look for signs of a normal attitude and mentation. An important part of our examination is also input from the owner. A history is asked for because the pet may exhibit behaviors at home that are not present at the visit. Dogs and cats experience adrenaline when at the doctor, the same as some humans can. This hormone can prevent them from feeling pain, take away a limp or gimp and make them appear more active than what an owner may see at home. Please write down any potential concerns before your visit so you don't forget to ask about them.
During an annual visit, we will be asking for certain samples from your pet. We request owners to bring in a small sample of fecal material to their appointments at least once a year. Reason for this is that dogs and cats can have/carry intestinal parasites. You will not see signs of most worms in the pet's stool as they only live internally and produce microscopic eggs. Our fecal testing is done via floatation in a special solution that causes the eggs to rise to the surface and adhere to a glass microscope slide. We then look under the microscope for these eggs. In addition to causing health problems for your pet, many intestinal parasites can be contagious to humans, particularly infants and young children or immunocompromised adults.
Annual Heartworm and Tick-borne Disease Blood Test by Idexx 4Dx Snap Test
Once a year we will be drawing blood from your canine companion to test for heartworm disease. Recently a test has become available that combines a heartworm test with tests for several diseases that are transmitted by ticks. Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme Disease are all found in our area of the midwest and are transmitted to dogs when ticks attach to feed. Some of these ticks are so small, they are hard to see without a magnifying glass. Flea and tick treatments such as Frontline Plus and Nexgard help reduce the chances of the tick passing along one of these debilitating diseases, but they do not completely prevent the transmissions. In order to kill the tick, the tick still must bite, attach and take blood allowing for transmission of these 3 diseases. At Northwest Vet Hospital, in 2014 approximately 10% of dogs we test have tested positive for one of these 3 diseases. Should your pet be among this percentage, we will offer a more specific test to check the severity and stage of the disease, and if needed an appropriate course of antibiotics will be prescribed.
Junior and Senior Wellness Blood Chemistry and Hematology Testing
At Northwest Vet Hospital we want to see your pet live as long and healthy a life as possible. No matter how good our physical examination is there are things that can be going on internally that we cannot see signs of on examining your pet. Because of this we offer to perform a blood chemistry profile and a red and white blood cell count once a year on most pets. It is important at all life stages to keep on eye on organ functions such as liver, kidney and blood sugar levels once a year. Remember your pet cannot tell us how they feel and if things are changing for them. Many diseases set in very slowly and owners can take years to pick up on subtle changes in their pet's appetite, water consumption and behaviors. By the time an owner has noticed that the pet is not acting themselves, the illness is already out of control. By watching the blood chemistries every year, we can determine an upward trend before it even leaves the normal range. Many organ-related problems can be dealt with via a change in diet or addition of a supplement. These blood tests are important for all pets but can be life saving for our senior pets over 7 years old.